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Arctic Sea Ice Continues Decline to Set New Records

20070904_extent
Updated map of sea ice extent for September 3, 2007; the magenta line shows the median September extent based on data from 1979 to 2000. Click to enlarge. Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center

The Arctic sea ice extent continues to decline, and is now at a record low of 4.42 million square kilometers (1.70 million square miles), according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. This puts the sea ice extent yet further below the record absolute minimum of 5.32 million square kilometers (2.05 million square miles) that occurred on September 20–21, 2005.

Between the NSIDC report on 3 September and 28 August, the date of the prior report, the Arctic lost an additional 360,000 square kilometers (138,000 square miles) of ice, an area larger than the size of the state of New Mexico. In the report of 28 August, the NSIDC noted that the daily rate of ice loss was starting to slow; the loss rate has since accelerated again. (See chart below.)

20070904_timeseries
Data derived from Sea Ice Index data set. Click to enlarge. Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center

The August 2007 monthly average extent of 5.32 million square kilometers (2.05 million square miles) is sharply lower than all previous Augusts, and was 31% below the long-term average of 7.67 million square kilometers (2.95 million square miles).

Even more stunning is that the August 2007 monthly average is the lowest extent in the satellite record for any month, including any previous September, which is typically the lowest month each year. September 2005, the previous record, had a monthly mean extent of 5.56 million square kilometers (2.14 million square miles).

—NSIDC
20070904_augtrend
August sea ice extent. Click to enlarge. Source: national SNow and Ice Data Center

Another notable aspect of August was the opening of the Northwest Passage, which was “the most navigable that people have see since monitoring began,” according to the center. Although the Northeast Passage is still blocked by fairly heavy ice conditions north of the Taymyr Peninsula, the NSIDC suggests that passage might open as well during the next few weeks.

Reduced sea ice during the summer—when more solar energy reaches the surface than during the winter—has a big impact on the Arctic’s overall energy balance, according to the NSIDC. Whereas sea ice reflects much of the sun’s radiation back into space, dark ice-free ocean water absorbs more of the sun’s energy.

In its analysis of the 2005 record minimum, NSIDC noted that lower minimum extents affect the comeback in the following winter. The lack of recovery means that the sea ice is not building back up to prior levels after a summer of melting—leaving it even more susceptible to warmer summer temperatures.

Feedbacks in the system are starting to take hold. Right now, our projections for the future use a steady linear decline, but when feedbacks are involved the decline is not necessarily steady—it could pick up speed.

—NSIDC Lead Scientist Ted Scambos, 2005

Resources:

Comments

JMartin

"When I offered that bet, I was duplicating the famous Paul Erlich wager who was a Prophet, (more accurately a Profit) of the '70s; and a religious totem of the doomsday loons, of that era.

He of the "Population Bomb" and the claim that the Oceans would be Dead and Sterile, without even bacteria surviving by 1975, and for certain by 1976, at the latest."

Stan, forget Global Warming. Note that Erlich may have been right about the events, just wrong about the timing.

Ben

Jack,

I said "what if global warming WAS not real" not "what if global warming IS not real" as in its real but hypothetically what it was not. The problem is these denialist using the argument against global warming as a spring board that change is not needed, this ignored other equally pressing reasons for change, in fact Peak oOl will virtually insure change (though we might end up with massive coal gasification if we are not careful)

jack

What if Peak Oil is not real?

Andrey

Domenick:

“…Mitch Taylor, a polar bear biologist with the government of Nunavut, a territory in Canada.
In a 12-page report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Taylor stated: "No evidence exists that suggests that both bears and the conservation systems that regulate them will not adapt and respond to the new conditions. Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or are increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present."
The current population of polar bears is said to have dwindled to 22,000 to 25,000. A half-century ago there were only 8,000 to 10,000 polar bears, according to science writer Theo Richel.
Much of this increase is due to hunting restrictions that were put in place.
Actually, global warming might help in that area. A reduction in ice cover creates a better habitat for seals, which are the bears' main food. Less ice cover means more sunlight producing more phytoplankton, increasing the supply of other food sources.”
Yearly Canada issues about 100 hunting licenses for polar bears, and about 50 bears are killed to defend local population from intruding bears. Hardly an alarming picture.

About 90% of ice is concentrated in Antarctica and Greenland, not floating on water. Ice is melting on peripheries at summer, and fresh ice is created inland by snowfall. This is what glaciers do. For Antarctica ice balance is slightly positive, for Greenland most probably slightly negative. All changes are very small and very slow. Ocean is rising, as it is doing for last 10 000 years from the end of Ice Age. Last couple of centuries ocean is rising with rate less then 1.5 mm per year (one inch in 16 years), and this rise is not accelerating.
I personally remember that in 1970s winters were colder with more snow, but this is exactly what climate science is telling us: climate cooled from 1930s, and warmed from 1970s. Last 10 years temperature is stable and warm. As for 1930s, ask American old timers about Dust Bowl years – multiyear severe drought with terrible dust storms. Nothing even comparable is happening now.

jack

from PropertyRightsResearch.org, the crank site where you got that.

"If God and Country and family are your top priorities, you'll like this site.
If you cherish farmers, miners, ranchers, loggers, fishermen, and
recreationists, you've come to the right place."

"I once wondered if our founding fathers were keenly aware of their opportunities and the times in which they lived, and I longed to have been part of the creation of our Christian Republic. Now I have a special opportunity, not unlike those I for which I once yearned. - Julie Kay Smithson, September 2006."

cf.

"The United States Geological Survey, for example, in November 2006, stated that the loss of sea ice in the Alaskan portion of the Beaufort Sea has led to a higher death rate for polar bear cubs.

A 1999 study of polar bears on Hudson Bay showed that rising temperatures are thinning the pack ice from which the bears hunt, driving them to shore weeks before they've caught enough food to get them through hibernation and leading to a 21% decline in the local population."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_bear#Threats_natural_and_unnatural

Ben

But at least half of the founding fathers were Deist and did not believe in all powerful Christian god that dictated orders! I honestly wish the apocalypses would rapture these evangelicals away, maybe then things down here would get more sane!

jack,

like you said "what if the sun didn't rise?"

Even then we still have to contend with buying oil from countries that hate us so they can oppress their people, blame us and spawn terrorist to kill us, and don't ask "what if terrorism is not real" because I don't sing the "9/11" song to well (I'm a bad signer).

Anne

@Ben:

The big question is: How do you define change? The comfortable position of the denialists is that they can sit on their lazy a***s, letting the opposition do the work. After all, if you want to change something, you're gonna have to prove you're right, isn't it? And the green crowd wants us to stop burning fossil fuels, so prove to me why I must do that.

But you can also alter the definition of what is the change. Let's from now on say that altering the composition of the atmosphere is the change. Then the denialists have the problem of coming up with proof that burning fossil fuels does *not* harm the environment.

If it is all that simple as you seem to think it is, you'll have no problem coming up with the unrefutable proof that burning up those billions of barrels/tons of fossil fuels is of no harm to this planet. And I will convert to denialism instantly.

Denialists of the world unite! You have a mission.

cs1992

Fossil fuel consumption rates do not need to be altered. Birth rates need to be altered. This planet is only so big and can only withstand so much. Maybe nature is fighting back and her solution is pretty simple....decrease our impact by decreasing us. If we were smart, we'd have population targets, not GHG targets.

Domenick

Andrey:
"While fellow scientists have accepted Mr Taylor's findings, critics point out that his study was commissioned by the Inuit-dominated government of Nunavit.

Critics claim the government has an agenda to encourage polar bear hunting and keep the animals off the endangered species list.

In small Inuit communities, hunters kill bears that wander too close to human settlements and, in this particular region, they are licensed to kill six polar bears a year.

Polar bear experts said that numbers had increased not because of climate change but due to the efforts of conservationists.

The battle to ban the hunting of Harp seal pups has meant the seal population has soared - boosting the bears' food supply.

At the same time, fewer seal hunters are around to hunt bears.

"I don't think there is any question polar bears are in danger from global warming," said Andrew Derocher of the World Conservation Union, and a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. "People who deny that have a clear interest in hunting bears.""
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/03/09/wpolar09.xml

So to recap, to say polar bears are thriving depends on who you decide to believe.
Personally, I hope they are thriving but I am worried that they won't be in the future because of massive changes in their environment over the next 50 years.

Henrik

Andrey

Take a close look at the global temperature development since 1860. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Instrumental_Temperature_Record.png

Also take a close look at the atmospheric CO2 development.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Carbon_Dioxide_400kyr-2.png

Now, then you have in mind that the global temperature is affected stochastically by other phenomenon’s so that we should not expect a perfectly smooth correlation between CO2 and global temperatures. Now you must admit that since 1900 there has been a fairly close correlation between accelerating CO2 levels and accelerating increases in global temperatures.

What exactly do you mean by “yet the temperatures are the same on both peaks of PDO warming phases in 1930 and 1990.” Can’t you see that you are picking periods in neglect of the bigger picture in order to support your belief of denial that is contrary to what all scientist in the field agree on. This picking of data to fit a premade opinion is called fraud. You have most likely got you ideas from some websites dedicated to deny Global Warming and that are sponsored directly or indirectly by organizations that profit from this denial or simply deny it for religious reasons. You are being deceived.

Ben

Anne,

No proof is needed: if the weather man says their is a good chance of rain do you decide not to bring an umbrella because their is no proof?

Henrik

This is a quote from China’s President Hu after his discussions with President Bush. "We believe that the issue of climate change bears on the welfare of the whole of humanity and sustainability of the whole world," Hu said. "This should be tackled through a stronger international cooperation."

Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/09/06/australia.bush/index.html

I hope that they mean it and put action behind it. I am pessimistic though. They say it simply to fend off growing anger among the environmentalists about the current state of inadequate action.

Andrey

Domenick:

Population of polar bears doubled in last 30 years from 8000-10000 to current 20000-25000, for whatever reasons. I call it thriving. Concerns about their future are justified, but anyone claiming that polar bears are on a brink of extinction is a liar.

Henrick:

Fairy tale about correlation between so-called pre-industrial CO2 concentrations of 280 ppm (newest researches, mainly based on stomata proxies, place 19 century CO2 concentrations at about 300-320 ppm) and temperature rise since 1860-1880 (when Earth recovered from Little Ice Age; talk about fraud of picking most convenient comparison points) is maintained by AGW clergy for their foot soldiers only. IPCC, as more sophisticated and allegedly scientific body, claims in their summaries that antropogenic emissions of CO2 began to affect global climate only in 1950s, when emissions of fossil CO2 really took off.

Comparison of temperatures between 1930s and 1990s is the we can possibly do. Both are peaks of warm PDO, and peaks of multidecadal global temperatures. The only difference is that in 1930s antropogenic emissions of CO2 were minuscule (less then 1GTC per year) and CO2 concentrations were about 320 ppm. Now it is 7 GTC and 395 ppm. Yet temperatures in 1930s and 1990s are the same. As simple as that.

jack

"for whatever reasons"

Yeah, just ignore the work of committed environmentalists. That doesn't fit the plan.

"I call it thriving."

Really? You call having your habitat destroyed "thriving"? Funny, most people would consider that an awful thing. Are you paying attention to the current trends, or are you satisfied cherry-picking numbers from a fringe, biased website?

"Concerns about their future are justified, but anyone claiming that polar bears are on a brink of extinction is a liar."

So, if there were 20,000 humans left and our habitat was being destroyed, this wouldn't be cause for concern about the future of the human race? Silly.

"talk about fraud of picking most convenient comparison points"

Talk about something you do with polar bear numbers.

"AGW clergy for their foot soldiers"

Stupid rhetoric = weak argument.

Henrik

Andrey

I quote you “Yet temperatures in 1930s and 1990s are the same. As simple as that.”

This is the second time you are lying about facts. As simple as that Andrey.

The first time you lied I tried to make it easy for you to see your error so I gave you the source to a graph that clearly shows that the average world temperature in the 1930s is about -0.1 degree Celsius below the 1860-2000 average, and the average world temperature in the 1990s is about 0.29 degree Celsius above the 1860-2000 average. To be sure, the average temperature is therefore 0.39 degrees Celsius higher in the 1990s than the 1930s.

For your convenience I repeat the source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Instrumental_Temperature_Record.png

Believe it or not but 6 years ago I was a Global Warming denier myself. GW was not my area of research and I had only vaguely heard about it from the news. I believed the US government was right in their denial and at that time there was a guy called Bjørn Lomborg who also denied it and I believed him. Lomborg is an economist who became world famous from comparing resources spend on GW and other problems. My big mistake was that I believed these non-experts. The fact is that the entire field of climate scientists agrees that GW is happening and driven predominantly by human CO2 emissions. This is all we need to know. We should listen to the climate scientist and not to political or religious opinions on this topic. Politicians and religious leaders have all sorts of other agendas than to search for truth.

Henrik

One correction of my post right above. The benchmark average in the figure on global temperature is not the 1860-2000 average but “the zero on this figure is the mean temperature from 1961-1990.” This correction has no implication for the arguments made. The global temperature is still 0.39 degree Celsius higher in the 1990s than in the 1930s.

michel

...at the end of the show, they claim the opposite:
http://stage6.divx.com/user/quizboy/video/1603726/Top-Gear-Polar-Special-HDTV-XviD-BiA

jack

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f4/Instrumental_Temperature_Record.png

Max Reid

So far, only the Global Warming melted the Arctic ice, now there is Oil search by the Russians and later by Canadians and Danish.

And then the Japanese want to send their ships thru polar route to transport their goods since its a shorter.

Later there may be more tourist expeditions. All this will mean that Arctic will melt much faster than expected.

jack

"Shrinking ice could put polar bear on endangered list: US"

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Melting Arctic sea ice due to global warming could cut the polar bear population by two-thirds over the next 50 years, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said in a series of studies released Friday.

The nine studies could prompt the US Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service to list the polar bear as a threatened species.

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iBwhjwNvtoey1SSxRHyBDgFVffzQ

Andrey

Henrik, my friend, just google "NASA 1934 temperatures"

There are about 300 000 hits, most of them about recent NASA ordeal with US temperatures mistake, quitely corrected about month ago.

Enjoy.

Henrik

Andrey

I don’t know if I should laugh or cry but once again you have not done your homework. The 1934 flaw is a local temperature adjustment for the US that is unimportant and certainly does not change the global temperature average by anything visible when you study the before and the after graph.

Let me quote a climate scientist at Columbia University talking about this topic.

“How big an error did this flaw cause (the 1934)? That is shown by the before and after results in Figure 1. The effect on the global temperature record is invisible. The effect on U.S. average temperature is about 0.15°C beginning in 2000. Does this change have any affect whatsoever on the global warming issue? Certainly not, as discussed below.”

The source is given below. This time Andrey, please read it.

http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/realdeal.16aug20074.pdf

The fact that you are able to find a lot of bull s**t on the web confusing the facts about this issue just shows how strong the lobbying is for political and religious agendas that have no respect for the truth and who does not care for the well being of humans and other species on this planet.

I wish I could make you understand that you are being deceived.

randy

There's no proof that anthropgenic C02 has caused or is causing significant atmospheric warming, there is simply a correlation between increases in air temperature and increases in C02. There's lots of proof that the earth is warming...something melted the ice from the last ice-age. There's lots of unfounded fear-mongering about the negative impacts of global warming. Frankly I don't think it's such a big deal. Where I live the temperature goes from +25 C in the summer to -45 C in the winter, so I wear t-shirts in the summer and a parka in the winter. I adapt. It's not that difficult. Humans have been doing it for thousands of years (we did survive the last ice-age somehow - go figure).

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